Ask Her is a collection of songs written when we first formed our record label, Jazz from Rant, and recorded in 1994. The songs are composed by Reg, Michel or I, and then I would intuitively pull the lyrics out from the melodies. I set out to write cinematic songs full of story. When I performed these songs in clubs shortly after recording this album people from the audience would sometimes come up to me and exclaim, omg, you were singing my life!We asked several musicians to contribute solos on the album. I had been working a lot with our old friend and mentor Herbie Spanier. I had a trio with Herbie and the pianist John Gittins (who had also been my sociology prof in university) and we often played together at Capriccio in Little Italy in Toronto. Often Herbie would arrive after a day’s work as an extra on the set of the t.v. show Kung Fu. He’d put his feet up and say that having your feet above your heart for five minutes was as good an a long nap. It was a variation on how he used to stand on his head before heading on stage
Also appearing here is John McGarvie, a great friend of ours who used to sit in on many of the duo gigs I did with Reg during this time period, usually at the guitar bar of the Top of the Senator, and his melodic playing always added a wonderful element of lyricism. Michael Stuart was playing with Reg and Michel regularly in those days too and added a solo on Tango for One that is steeped in a powerful jazz tradition.
Also present throughout this album is Reg’s late wife, my sister-in-law, cellist Kiki Misumi, taking on the role traditionally that of a bassist and providing some moving solos and intros. We had toured together as a quartet in Indonesia before recording this album and some of those live performances are on my Youtube channel.
In the ever-changing digital landscape that claims to be a music industry it took me awhile to realize that many of our early recordings, so newly adapted to compact discs when they were made, got left in the dust with the transition to digital distribution that is the norm nowadays. So hopefully sharing this music now will bring it to a new audience or make it easier for an older one to find their favourite tracks back. And if you are the type that needs a compact disc to toss into your old car’s cd player, just contact us and we can sell you a hard copy. Or head to my Bandcamp page and you can order it online there. You’ll get two bonus tracks and all the lyrics with the cd purchase.
Speaking of adapting to formats, here is the Super 8 film Givre that ignited my career as a web artist. This isn’t a copy from the Super 8 film but it comes instead from the tiny Real Video file I made when I put this up online back when video was very new to the internet, before Youtube existed. Sadly the old Quebecois house featured in the film is long gone but the apple tree still remains. Enjoy!